The work of Dr Lauren Redhead
Creative / Performance Project for our Master of Music Postgraduates
Broadcast on Wednesday April 5th
Music release opportunity
To perform in St Gregory’s Centre for Music
Interviews with a variety of students on our postgraduate programmes
German Radio Broadcast
Report written by postgraduate student: Sophie Stone
The Royal Musical Association/British Forum for Ethnomusicology Research Students’ Conference was hosted by Canterbury Christ Church University between the 5th and 7th January 2017 in the beautiful and historic city of Canterbury. Many of the sessions took place in the prestigious Augustine House which, alongside being a venue for conferences and events, is the University’s library. The building has won architectural awards for its contemporary design and commitment to sustainability. The event was successful and the coffee breaks, lunches and dinners proved beneficial for the students in making important connections within their broader discipline; and they could also have friendly discussions across different disciplines to share ideas and research.
The three days comprised a total of thirty sessions with up to four parallel sessions and up to three papers being presented in each. The numerous paper sessions allowed many students to gain experience in presenting a paper with a friendly and captivated audience. The subject matters for each session was diverse, but students, academics and professionals could attend the sessions relevant to their research topic and hear something new; for example, Cultures of Popular Music, Compositional Methods, Improvisation, Gender, Music and Wellbeing, and Cultural Networks.
As well as paper sessions, there were Keynote Lectures by Dr Kate Guthrie on ‘O Magnum Mysterium: Teaching Modern Music in Postwar Britain’ and Professor Anna Morcom on ‘Performance, performativity, and the enactment of music and dance’. There were three Discussion Sessions which covered problems in current music research: ‘Documentary and Archive Sources’, ‘People, Culture & Community Sources’ and ‘Practice and your PhD’. The paper sessions, lectures and discussions were all relevant to the conference title and helped students in all musical practices with the practical issues of data collection and analysis, and doing a practice-based PhD.
On the evening of Friday 6th January composers had the opportunity to showcase their installations at the fantastic Sidney Cooper Gallery. This part of the conference was sponsored by the CCCU Centre for Practice-Based Research in the Arts. CPBRA promotes practice-based research in all artistic disciplines through lecture series, projects, performances, workshops and conferences. The Sidney Cooper Gallery is a wonderful and contemporary gallery housed in an historic building down the cobbled highstreet of Canterbury. The gallery is used to exhibit the work of the students and the local community across all artistic disciplines. The installations drew a large audience which encouraged intellectual conversation and debate in the experimental and diverse practices used by the composers.
Overall, the conference was a fantastic experience where I could connect with other students and present my work in a friendly and informal environment. Below is a report about my favourite sessions from the conference.
Paper session: Phenomenology
This session started with an informal introduction by Sara Clethero, an academic, singer and director of Opera Mint based in Birmingham. Sara passionately discussed her project which is committed to teaching and performing new and traditional operas. The company is linked to charities such as Autism West Midlands whose residents and carers attend the annual summer school. Sara discussed her interest in philosophy and her PhD based on existentialism, singing and performance.
James Davis’ (University of Birmingham) PhD is based on Luciano Berio’s philosophical engagements in terms of their socio-political significance. His paper, ‘Luciano Berio, Epifanie and Phenomenology’, explained the philosophical-political presence within Berio’s Epifanie (1960–63) in terms of its proximity to the publication of Umberto Eco’s Opera aperta [Open Work] (1962) and the phenomenological dimension of Epifanie through the texts Berio utilises (specifically the texts of Marcel Proust, James Joyce and Claude Simon). James compared Berio’s differing text settings; for example, Proust’s text is set to simple music which contrasts the busy orchestral sections and Simon’s extract is hardly audible and therefore gives a striking musical distinction, which James refers to as a phenomenological approach to reality. He also explained that Berio’s and Eco’s work was produced at a time of social and cultural change due to Italy’s economic growth and industrialisation through the 1950s and 60s. James was competent in answering the questions asked by the audience and chair; the questions sparked an interesting discussion on the title of Berio’s work and what he would have defined as an ‘epiphany’ (the biblical definition or a sudden realisation).
Olivia Knops (University of Birmingham) is currently researching the relationship between Michael Tippett and Analytical Psychology, specifically referring to the work of John Layard. Olivia started her paper, ‘Follow your Dreams: Michael Tippett, Dream Analysis and The Midsummer Marriage’, by giving her explanation of Jungian theory which included the collective unconscious, archetypes and individuation. Her presentation was in two parts: Tippet’s dream analysis and the influence of dream analysis on The Midsummer Marriage. Olivia spoke about Tippett’s interest in Jungian theory through his own dream analysis that took place over a nine-month period in 1939 which helped him come to terms with his sexuality. Olivia explained the methodology of dream analysis which includes content, structure and meaning; Tippett ignored the structure and instead focused on his fear and Freudian associations. Olivia moved on to discuss Tippett’s controversial opera, The Midsummer Marriage (1955). She simplified the plot by drawing correlations with Tippett’s dream analysis through specific events, characters, hermaphroditism and individuation. The questions at the end led to a discussion on how the staging would be beneficial in realising the opera in a way that would improve the audience’s understanding of the plot.
Training/Discussion 2: People, Culture & Community Sources
This session was briefly introduced by Liam Barnard and was made relevant to students of all disciplines. The speakers took turns to discuss their work and the different ways to engage with others when doing research before they answered questions given by the audience.
Dr. Lois Fitch’s (Royal Northern College of Music) interests include contemporary British music and she discussed the benefits and difficulties of engaging with a living composer through examples of when she wrote a book on Brian Ferneyhough. She emphasised the importance of maintaining a ‘critical distance’ from those you are researching as to not be biased. Lois also described the benefits of communities that were not entirely academic, for example, the Radio 3 messageboard for new music.
Dr. Maria Varvarigou (CCCU) has an interest in music and wellbeing which was highlighted in her passionate discussion of a project involving music and the elderly. Maria explained the challenges and rewards she encountered when interviewing the elderly about their musical experiences. She described her bias as a researcher and to overcome this she sent transcripts to the participants to ensure that the information she collected was correct. Maria moved on to discuss another project where her students participated in spontaneous music making. The students produced diaries to explain their experience of the project; by passing on her authority as a researcher, Maria found the outcome more interesting.
Prof. Anna Morcom’s (Royal Holloway) interests involve the musical cultures of Tibet and South Asia. Anna discussed her experiences in fieldwork and how to expect the unexpected. She explained the challenges of dealing with people, the responsibility of keeping up relationships and how she had deep attachments to the people she met. One of the difficulties that Anna experienced was the insider/outsider relationship she had with specific tribes because of her different culture and race. She said that the most rewarding part of fieldwork is the beneficial change in the people you meet because of their experience and involvement in your work.
The panel answered many questions and clarified the importance of ethics in fieldwork, discussed how age can affect your position as an interviewer and explained the dangers of interference rather than observation.
Sidney Cooper Gallery Evening
The evening consisted of a wine reception and the realisation of students’ diverse installations which proved popular with a large audience. Each work was intellectual and challenging which encouraged fascinating discussions between researchers.
As the crowd entered, they heard Elizabeth Hayward’s (CCCU) electronic Pianoforte Memento Mori. Alongside the sound element, reclaimed piano parts were used to create interactive sculptures and the sounds produced by the audience contributed to the overall installation. The production of the work was evident through the sound, sculptures and photography (Charlotte Stratton). The electronic sound was a culmination of recordings completed outside where the piano was destroyed and the remains created the sculptures. The evidence of the work’s creation allows the audience to reflect on renewal as the destroyed piano has a renewed function.
Hayward’s installation was followed by a brief introduction by Lauren Redhead which led to the realisation of Joe Inkpen’s (CCCU) polytemporal composition for solo guitar. Joe’s work was an audio-visual installation with pre-recorded videos of himself playing the guitar projected onto several walls, the audio for these videos and Joe performing live. The musical context was simplistic, however the polytemporal layering of the varying rhythmic ostinati produced a conflicting and complex texture which in turn created an almost meditative experience for the listener.
Joe’s work was followed by the acoustic realisation of my own work, “As sure as time…”, in which a quote from Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (2015) was used to form a spoken word installation. This performance involved three vocalists who performed their own compositional processes, they explored the space and the different techniques of sound production. The discussions after the performance included the difficulties in producing works for locations outside of the traditional concert hall.
Hardi Kurda (Goldsmiths, University of London) then gave a demonstration and performance of his creation, Diagnosis Machine. Hardi used an ECG to create music using the responses of the body with a graphic response. The machine creates different sounds through the movement of a person’s fingers therefore making the human body a musical instrument, which means that every person can produce a unique sound. Hardi’s research involves experimenting with new ways of creating music by using interdisciplinary mediums which then affects how the environment is perceived.
The final installation was called Landscapes by Emily Peasgood (CCCU) which involved a projected video of a choral work composed in response to the artworks of JMW Turner and Helen Frankenthaler for a community choir. The political and expressive messages of the film resulted in an emotional and thought-provoking response in the audience.